As the saying goes, “home is where the heart is.” However, the St. Louis Cardinals have a new saying: It’s where visiting teams go to lose. After the Cardinals blanked the San Francisco Giants 10-0 on Thursday to wrap up their latest home stand, it reasserted a fact that the Cardinals are dominant at home.
That’s what teams that want to make the postseason are supposed to do.
The Cardinals already have won more games at home (46) than they have since 2015. Not surprisingly, that was also their last playoff appearance.
“You’ve got to win at home,” catcher Yadier Molina told the St. Louis Post Dispatch after the 10-0 victory Thursday. “That’s the No. 1 key. We have to have that advantage against the other team, and the last couple of years, the last three years, we didn’t have that advantage here. To have it this year, makes the difference.”
Here’s how much it makes a difference
The Cardinals won six of eight games in six days at home. They’ve won 16 of their past 19 home games, 22 of their 30 home games since the All-Star break, and they lost once at home the entire month of August. And that was a rain-shortened, disputed loss to Milwaukee, in which the teams only played seven innings. It has vaulted them from a middling, inconsistent afterthought, to one that is fun to watch once again.
But this is where it gets tricky and when Busch Stadium has to be a cathedral of winning.
There are nine home games remaining in the regular season – all of them against contending teams, six against division rivals, and the Cardinals must keep up this sort of dominance within the friendly confines.
Of course there are other factors including stat that the Cardinals have committed the fewest errors in baseball (59). They had the most in the majors, at 133, a year ago. No team in major-league history has ever gone from worst to best in errors in consecutive seasons, according to research by Stats, Inc. The 1935 White Sox come the closest with the second-fewest errors after leading the majors in 1934.
The Cardinals could set a club record for fewest errors, beating the 2013 team, who had 75 errors. St. Louis also leads the league in double plays turned with 144. Overall, the fielding as been much better, and in turn, gave Busch Stadium an aura of invincibility once again.
If a team dominates at home and plays .500 baseball on the road, it’s a roadmap to success over the course of a long 162 game season. The Cardinals have not done that in the past, that included a losing record at home in 2016.
A good benchmark for that dominance is winning 50 games at home, something the Cardinals can still do with nine games left at Busch.
It’s that type of home cooking that can lead to a playoff run, and maybe even a deep one.
Justin Hotop is a sportswriter for the Republic-Monitor and a three-point specialist on the court. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.